June 05, 2014


By Torré Brannon-Reese

LAWT Contributing Writer



Imagine being a child, 7, 8, 9 years old. You were born in Belize, Cuba, Trinidad, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Guatemala, or somewhere else in the beautiful Caribbean Islands, or Central America.  Suddenly, your mother leaves home, is gone for a year, maybe two or three; finally, she comes back to get you and takes you to this wonderful place called America! America, that far-way land you’ve heard of, where everybody is free, eternally happy, and rich beyond your wildest dreams.


Well, the reality for hundreds of thousands of “innocent children”, many now full grown adults, is a life devoid of true freedom. The reality is that hundreds of thousands of innocent/immigrants live their lives in a state of constant fear of deportation. Deportation from America, back to a land they know nothing about and have no emotional connection to. Hundreds of thousands of “undocumented citizens”, many who have been in this country for 20, 30 and 40 years, live in constant fear that one day, they will be stripped away from their children, family, friends and loved ones, and forcibly taken away from the only life they’ve ever known. Their lives are eerily similar to that of millions of innocent enslaved Africans in America, who lived their lives in this same state of fear and “perceived freedom”. 


The assumption for the majority of us who are of African descent, is that this is a “Mexican” or “Latino” issue. And many of “us”, due to our cultural/historical ignorance, acquired racial prejudice and or social/political apathy, turn a blind eye toward this issue, as if it does not affect us. We need to think again, because, guess what, it affects us (Black people) in more ways than one. If nothing else, our political behavior (I’m generalizing with intelligence) on this issue has helped to define our national image in ways most of us, do not even understand.


As we run scared that the “illegals” (as our ancestors were called) are taking away our jobs, we naturally align ourselves politically with right wing conservatives/segregationist who have never had our best interest at heart, and who use us as political footballs based upon our own prejudices, ignorance and media inspired fears.


As a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, I am proud to know that my historical lineage not only goes back to Africa, yet, my bloodline connects me to the triumphant Haiti people. This due to the influx of Haitians, migrating into New Orleans after their revolution and independence from France in the early 1800’s.


Yet, this writing is not so concerned about the “politics”, as it is about the “human” side of this issue. As people of color who (should be) knowledgeable and appreciative of our history, I’d think we’d be particularly concerned and actively involved in helping to create meaningful, respectful solutions on this issue. The unfortunate argument that  immigrants hurt employment opportunities for low skilled, marginally educated Blacks, has been adopted by right wing conservatives as their mantra, and again, further promotes an image of Black men as helpless, pitiful victims, who in 200 years, have failedto make progress in American society. Sadly, these same so-called, “second class human beings”, are tricked into fighting against other low-skilled, marginalized, economically/poli­tically exploited class of persons, or, Latinos.


Historically, the greatest among us, knowing the power of coalition building and cultural bonding, have consciously reached out to our brothers and sisters of color in the Diaspora; people such as, W.E.B.DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Paul Robeson, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, were all in search of positive and productive relationships amongst people of color; who comprise the majority (not minority) of the human beings on the planet.


I imagine that if Dr. King were still alive, he would fight with all his power against the devilish deportation/slave treatment of innocent, law abiding, tax-paying citizens, whose only crime was being born in Another Country.


Innocent Black Immigrants


And if Malcolm X were here, I am confident that he would point a stern finger at his people; who, in


2014, still have our hands stretched out, begging our former slave masters for hand-outs!


My feeling is that Malcolm would be about the business of focusing our energies/attention on “ownership” and the building of our own economic and  political systems and institutions.


What a shameful thing we do to the legacies of our ancestors, when we waste time & talent, hating on other political victims, who, by the way, actually own the spiritual birthright to this land we call America.


My hope and prayer is that we become actively involved in this grand, international struggle for human dignity. Further, and as a realistic/optimist, I do believe that as more of our close friends and family members are affected by this unfortunate phenomenon, we will get involved.


As far as I am concerned, the current Black Immigration reality is not unlike that of our slave era experience. The free, northern born Negroes, enjoying access to education, jobs and opportunity, had a choice, they could stand idly by, and watch our southern born brothers and sisters suffer the indignities of chattel slavery; or they could do as sister Harriet Tubman did, and fight for the freedom of their people. I stand with Harriet, where so you stand?


It is our responsibility, as a people who were formally “forced immigrants”, to preserve and honor our legacy. Our legacy is one of compassion, kindness, self-education and courageous action. Let’s honor our legacy, get involved.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

May 29, 2014

LAWT News Service


On Friday, May 16, more than 750 guests attended the California Science Center’s 16th annual Discovery Ball.  As part of the festivities, guests experienced an ancient city at the height of the Roman Empire as they previewed the west coast premiere of Pompeii: The Exhibition. From the Science Center they were transported by “chariot” to the entrance of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which was transformed into a lush, Pompeii garden villa where they were treated to an Italian dinner by candlelight. While dining, guests were entertained by a harpist and pan flautist, followed by a small army of gladiators who made a grand entrance and lit the historic Olympic torch.


The annual black-tie gala, a philanthropic event, raised more than $1.35 million to benefit the California Science Center Foundation through table sponsorships, a live auction conducted by NBC4 Fritz Coleman, and a raffle for a Lexus RC F performance coupe. Science Center President, Jeffrey Rudolph noted that, “Proceeds from this fundraiser enable us to continue providing exceptional science learning and education opportunities for our community.”


The Science Center’s annual gala has been recognized as a “virtual who’s who of the Los Angeles business community” by the Los Angeles Business Journal. Among the gala guests were community and business leaders as well as elected officials at local, state and federal levels including: State Controller John Chiang; Congresswoman Maxine Waters; City Council President Herb Wesson; Councilman Curren Price; County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas; Assemblyman Reggie Jones Sawyer; Assemblyman Richard Bloom; and Assemblyman Steve Bradford; former astronaut Daniel Olivas; and celebrities Debbie Allen and her husband, former NBA star Norm Nixon.


Gala co-chairs Anne Shen Smith, past Chairman and CEO of Southern California Gas Company and Robert S. Carter, Senior Vice President – Automotive Operations of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. presided over the program.


Another highlight of the evening was the transformation of the Samuel Oschin Pavilion into an out-of-this-world night club with Space Shuttle Endeavour as the centerpiece. Guests also enjoyed a private screening of the IMAX film “Forces of Nature.”


Top donors to the Discovery Ball were Wells Fargo and Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

May 29, 2014

By Joey Matthews

Special to the NNPA from the Houston Forward Times



Eight-year-old Martin Cobb and his 12-year-old sister had a special bond. They were by all accounts inseparable as siblings, best friends and playmates.


“They were never apart,” said the Rev. Theodore L. Hughey, the pastor at Abundant Life Church of God in Christ, the family’s church. They would ride bikes and big wheelers together, play side by side with children in their South Side neighborhood and brag about their mother’s fine down-home cooking, he told the Free Press.


Marty had a special affinity for keys of any type, the pastor added. In a tragic event that has captured the nation’s heart, Marty now is being fondly remembered as a courageous hero. Local and national media are telling the heart-rending story of how Marty died May 1, while bravely trying to protect his beloved sister from a sexual predator as they played around noon near railroad tracks behind the family’s home in the 200 block of Brandon Road.


A 16-year-old boy has been arrested and charged with Marty’s murder and the attack on his sister, who survived. She is recovering at a local hospital.


Marty died from severe head trauma, police later reported. Neighbors reported the attacker struck Marty in the head with a brick. A few days following his death, about 200 family members, friends, neighbors and other community members somberly gathered outside Abundant Life to honor the endearing child with the small frame, indomitable spirit and warm, loving smile.


Prior to the vigil, loved ones assembled around a sign in Marty’s yard that read: “Martin: A real hero lived, fought and died here.”


“Little Marty is a hero,” stated City Council member Reva M. Trammell, who spoke at the vigil and represents the 8th District where the grieving family lives. “He was there when his sister needed him the most,” she added in response to a Free Press query. “Marty’s beautiful smile and his love for his sister will always be with us. Marty will always be in our hearts, and he will never, ever be forgotten.”


Charles Willis, executive director of the Citizens Against Crime group that has helped lead vigils for more than 20 years in the city, said the turnout reflects a caring community.


“Even though a crisis of this nature happens, this shows the strength of not only the city, but of the community,” Mr. Willis said. “When trouble comes to any community, we will respond in a positive fashion.”


He described Marty’s mother, Sharain Spruill, as “very, very, very upset as well as hurt and trying to wrap her mind aroundwhy this happened her son.”


Major Steve Drew, who directs Support Services with the Richmond Police Department, praised neighborhood residents for providing information that resulted in the quick arrest.


“The community really came together to seek justice for little Marty, the hero,” he said. Police said Marty’s sister first reported the attacker to be a White male, but later recanted and identified a black, 16-year-old neighbor as the attacker. She told police the teenager had threatened to hurt her if she told on him.


It has been reported the suspect’s name is Mariese Washington. He has a history of violent behavior that includes a 2010 attack in the Mosby Court housing community on a 3-year-old boy. He hit the boy in the back of the head with a hammer.


The attack required the child to receive 100 staples and a metal plate in his head. The boy has spent four years in recovery, according to his family. The alleged killer of Marty was to make his first appearance in Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on Monday in front of Judge Ashley K. Tunner.


Authorities have declined to identify the suspect because he’s a minor. Prosecutor Mary Langer stated in response to a Free Press query that she and Chris Bullard of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office are trying the case. She said the 16 year-old suspect will be tried as an adult for first degree murder, but will not face the death penalty. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the execution of juveniles violates the Constitution.


“A murder charge against a juvenile who is 14 years or older is subject to automatic certification treatment (as an adult),” Ms. Langer stated. “There is no discretion or choice for the judge.”


Those in the tight-knit South Side neighborhood where Marty’s family lives are determined to make sure his heroic actions are remembered. They have organized an online petition directed to the White House to have Marty recognized by President Obama for his heroic act.


A fund for the family has been established at Wells Fargo bank called the “Keys for Marty Foundation.” Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo branch.


Marty’s funeral was held May 9 at Mimms Funeral Home in Richmond.


“This young child has awakened a nation that has turned their back on the children!” the Rev. Hughey declared at the funeral of the young hero. “We need to end the war on our most precious gifts, our children…This young man, this little child, this giant that God put in this time has brought us together to say to him, ‘Martin, we will honor your memory now.’”

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

May 22, 2014


City News Service 

The Los Angeles City Council signed off this week on a package of revisions to the mayor’s $8.1 billion budget proposal that includes $10 million in additional funding for the fire department. The City Council is expected to vote next week on the revised 2014-15 fiscal year spending plan, which would then be forwarded to the mayor for his signature. Together with Mayor Eric Garcetti's own proposal to hire 140 more firefighters and rebuild the fire department, the extra $10 million approved by council brings the LAFD’s budget to $22 million above the previous year.


The added fire spending, which would be funded using short-term reserves and higher revenue projections, includes $3.65 million to replace fire safety equipment, $3.5 million to hold an extra firefighter recruit training class, and $3.34 million to keep 11 more ambulances on the streets for another six months. Eight city attorneys would be hired for nine months under another change proposed by the council. The added $622,424 would pay salaries for five attorneys to work in the neighborhood prosecutor program and three to handle enforcement of Proposition D, the voter-approved measure restricting the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles.


The council also added $5 million for bulky-item pick up service, $2.1 million to maintaining medians and $1 million for graffiti abatement. The council nixed Garcetti's proposal to hire 50 part-time traffic officers using $915,750. The mayor's office estimated the officers would issue traffic citations that would bring in $3 million in revenue, but the council decided instead to spend $207,207 to hire five full-time officers to provide traffic control at congested intersections.


The city would still be hiring 17 more already budgeted part-time officers to issue citations that, according to council estimates, would bring in $2.29 million for the city. Garcetti’s budget proposal includes $20 million for sidewalk repairs, expanded library hours and spending $14.8 million to keep police ranks at 10,000. His spending plan, released in April, proposes to bridge a projected shortfall of $242 million in fiscal year 2014-15 with the help of better-than-expected returns from taxes; savings on employee pensions and benefits; the elimination of vacant positions that equal 46 full-time jobs; grants and surplus funds; and the city’s reserves.


The budget also assumes city employees will agree to no raises and paying 10 percent of their health-care premiums, but negotiations with city employees are still ongoing.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News


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